Northern Iowa at North Dakota State FCS Football 2015 Playoffs Quarterfinal Breakdown


Northern Iowa at North Dakota State FCS Football 2015 Playoffs Quarterfinal Breakdown


Northern Iowa at North Dakota State, Saturday, 12:00

North Dakota State got their revenge on Saturday against Montana. Unlike back in August when the two teams met to open the season, the Bison defense was able to contain the Grizzlies passing attack. Montana quarterback Brady Gustafson threw for 229 yards, but was intercepted four times. The NDSU defense looked like they could have been playing in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night. They held Montana to a grand total of six rushing yards and Montana was out of the game early as NDSU coasted to a 37-6 win. It was a strong debut for the Bison in the playoffs and they certainly made a case that they are the team to beat moving forward.

Once again North Dakota State will play a familiar foe this Saturday. Northern Iowa went to Portland State and ran all over the Vikings. Tyvis Smith rushed for 207 yards and two scores, while quarterback Aaron Bailey added 200 more yards and two more scores on the ground. Bailey was just 7-of-14 for 31 yards through the air though. But in this case, UNI did not need to bother to throw the ball since they had their way with the Portland State defense on the ground.

Northern Iowa will need a more balanced attack in the Fargodome though. When the two met back on October 10th, the Panthers fell 31-28 and it took a late North Dakota State touchdown for the Bison to get the win. But back then Northern Iowa tried to throw the ball more with Sawyer Kollmorgen. Now all they have is Bailey and you cannot beat North Dakota State with a one-dimensional offense. Bailey will get his yards on the ground and UNI can score some points, but they have to mix in the threat of an air attack.

On the other side of the ball, North Dakota State’s offense is in cruise control right now. Running back King Frazier has taken on a bigger role since the injury to star quarterback Carson Wentz and rushed for 87 yards on 20 carries against Montana. Quarterback Easton Stick may have to lead the team throughout the rest of the playoffs since it looks like Wentz will not likely return. That is almost certainly true for the quarterfinals against UNI. Stick is not the passer that Wentz is, but he can make plays with his legs. In the end, this game may come down to which quarterback can be more effective through the air. Both teams have strong ground games and strong defenses and the only way to crack those defenses could be by opening things up and letting the ball fly around a little bit.


Projected Score: Northern Iowa 17, North Dakota State 28


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